AVSIM Freeware Aircraft Review

TinMouse Boeing 737-200 v1.23a

Product Information
Publisher: TinMouse
Description:  Complete Freeware Boeing 737-200 Package.

Download Size:
67.9 MB 5 files

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS2004
Reviewed by: Adam Volcek AVSIM Staff Reviewer - April 24, 2007

Files

Needed
TinMouse II B737-200ADV Model Pack
TinMouse II Boeing 737-200ADV V1.2
TinMouse II Boeing 737-200ADV V1.21 Update
TinMouse II Boeing 737-200ADV V1.22 Update
Boeing 737-200ADV V1.23A Panel Update
FSUIPC v3.71 by Peter Dowson

Extra
CIVA by Marco Ravanello & Gianfranco Corrias
TCAS II v7 IVSI and Transponder by Lee Hetherington
Light Splashes Effect for TinMouse II 737 by Matthew Lue

Introduction

The Boeing 737-200 series so far has been the most populous model built out of all 737’s. With the first being delivered December 29, 1967 until the last August 8, 1988 there was 1114 -200’s built. It all started with the 737-100, which was quickly extended to form the –200. I could go on and on, but to save us all, please visit The Boeing 737 Technical Site by Chris Brady. This website is full of wonderful information about every part of the 737 series.

Introducing for the virtual world - the TinMouse Boeing 737-200. This package has its origins with Richard Probst and his original TinMouse project. The many more additions by a group of individuals have made this package one of the most comprehensive and better freeware packages available to date. Shall we get started?

Installation and Documentation

The package is currently at v1.23a. This is achieved by downloading no less than 5 files. The v1.2 main download, along with the model pack will start you off, but to get a couple of fixes and additional features you will need 3 more point releases. There are also provisions to use the Kitty Hawk/FFX model by Erik Cantu. Let me tell you, getting the panel to work with the Cantu model is not for beginners, you must know the aircraft container system and how to edit configuration files.

Test System

ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe
AMD Athol 64 X2 3800+
Corsair XMS 2GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 8800GTS 640MB SLI
WD 5x250GB SATA2
Samsung 19” LCD DVI
Windows XP Pro
CH Products USB Yoke
CH Products USB Pedals
CH Products USB Throttle Quadrant

Flying Time:
30 hours

As stated in the documentation, FSUIPC is required so make sure you’ve got that installed, no need for registering it, but it does eliminate a few bugs that can happen with this package, and the design crew has stated they are considering making a registered version part of the requirements. I would also strongly recommend downloading the CIVA INS and the TCAS II v7 whose links I included above. The screenshots that I have taken use the night light effects by Matthew Lue, the link is also above.

Installation of the basic package is fairly straightforward. Just extract the model pack and v1.2 zip file into your MSFS folder, making sure you use file and folder names. For the point releases, you need to get a little down and dirty, with moving and renaming files, as well as using an executable to update the gauge file. Watch out, in order to add TCAS II capability, you need to rename the file as well as move it, which isn’t mentioned in the directions.

There are also a couple of other goodies included that you need in order to move files around so you can enjoy this project. While there is not a manual as of yet, there is some documentation included that you can and should read. First, there is a checklist and a set of performance charts that if you move to the main aircraft folder you can enjoy in MSFS via the kneeboard. Second, there are two documents describing the digital clock/chronograph and the PDCS (Performance Data Computer System). Read these for maximum enjoyment.

For other information I strongly suggest reading through the TinMouse Forum on AVSIM and taking a look at The Boeing 737 Technical Site by Chris Brady.

Panel

The panel is where this package really shines, of course the aircraft model, aerodynamics, and sound are top notch as well, but the panel is what makes this package one of the best out there. To start out, the main panel greets you with photorealistic design yet it's very readable, and you should also notice the viewing angle being slightly off to the right. This can be changed in the aircraft configuration file and is so noted at the correct spot. You may also change the fuel gauges to show kilograms and the altitude alerter to be in millibars via switches in the aircraft configuration file.

Main Panel Night lighting Throttles

The panel does show its age, but knowing this is coming from a –200, the nostalgia makes it all that much better. Click-spots are available in the middle of the panel via icons to other parts of the panel. To make the APU and engine start switches as well as the light switches accessible with out the whole upper panel, they have split them into a sort of upper and lower half.

It is possible to leave the lower half on, but it does cut down visibility. Nearly every knob, switch, or guard that you see is clickable and actually does something like the real airplane. Every system is faithfully simulated including electrical, hydraulic, fuel, pneumatic, and pressurization. Even the windshield wipers work…well, you can hear them, but you don’t see them.

Large upper panel Small upper panel

One feature you are treated to includes a very faithful representation of the Sperry SP-77 autopilot. There is a guide available on AVSIM that explains it all. The development team has announced the introduction of the Sperry SP-177 which is very much like the MCP on subsequent models of the 737. No estimated time on implementation, but I am looking forward to that.

Another nice feature are movable speed bugs that you can change by just clicking on the airspeed indicator. These give you V, and flap speeds with 1, 5, 10, 15, or 25 degree settings for takeoff, and 15, 30, or 40 for landing. The package also includes the PDCS, which computes EPR settings for various phases of flight. It is a wonderful tool and is still a work in progress, according to the design crew.

Some other optional features include the CIVA INS, TCAS II, and Reality XP’s WX-500. Each requires some tweaking in order to install, but does add some realism to the package. There is also an option for installing Reality XP’s GNS530 instead of the default GPS500, but due to programming autopilot integration will not work if you are using the CIVA as well. So in that case, it is more for situational awareness. Fortunately, it excels at that job as well.

There are two features that I miss and hope that at some point will be included, it is the ability to use the standard controls for the flaps and spoilers. At this point, the flaps are hard coded into the panel and to control the flaps you must use either F6-F7, the flap lever of the panel, hidden click-spots on the flap indicator gauge, or via FSUIPC offsets on button presses. This same lack of function is true for the spoilers and must be done via the Prop 2 Axis, the lever on the panel or a hidden click-spot on the main panel.

Radio panels

I strongly believe that better integration of the panel with the model could have been done to make things more standardized so that one doesn’t have to change things before flying with this aircraft.

Aerodynamics & Aircraft

The aerodynamics for the package has been excellently done and those who have flown the real –200 say that the numbers and performance are spot on. I’ll take their word for it. A nice little addition is made with adding the engine model, either JT8D-9 or JT8D-15, to the title in the aircraft configuration file. This will make the panel change the performance and characteristics from the default modeled –17R, essentially limiting the thrust available.

While the panel makes it possible, it is part of the aerodynamics and so deserves to be in this section. With this, I am surprised that they didn’t replicate the difference between the normal and hushed versions of the engines, mainly being the poor fuel economy that hush-kits produce.

There are five models included by Terry Gaff, a straight passenger and cargo model, both with the option to include hush-kits, as well as the option to include the gravel kit with the passenger model. There are six supplied liveries that include: Air Atlanta Icelandic (Cargo w/ Hush-Kits and –17R Engines), Continental (Passenger and –15 Engines), Delta (Passenger and –17R Engines), LAN Cargo (Cargo and –9 Engines), Lufthansa (Passenger w/ Hush-Kits and –15 Engines), and Sudan Air (Passenger w/ Gravel Kit and –17R Engines).

The models themselves are nicely done with all the standard animations. No virtual panel is included, but I’ve never been a fan of them anyway so that doesn’t matter to me. The parking brake must be engaged before the main exit door will open and be greeted by a flight attendant. Both of the cockpit windows also open. Toggle the next exit and the integrated air-stair, as well as the aft exit, will open. A flight attendant at the aft exit greets you again, but to make sure your passengers can’t fall out there is a caution bar across the aft exit. Through the doors and windows you will notice a well-done interior as well.

One inaccuracy that I have noticed, which many people fail at, is accurate thrust reversers. Thrust reversers fully deploy when engaged, not gradually as more reverse thrust is commanded.

The textures really make the good model great. They are detailed, and sharp. I have had to pay for models with more poorly done textures. Good job team. Since my most recent look at the AVSIM library, around 100+ liveries are available to turn your –200 into whatever you want it to be. The standard lighting effects along with the additional lighting effects by Matthew Lue make it quite the sight to behold. There is even a smoke effect for the vastly inefficient turbofans.

This package not only can use the included visual models by Terry Gaff, but can also use the –200 model by Erik Cantu. As stated before, getting the Cantu model to work with the panel is not for the amateur. To test the compatibility of the Cantu model, I chose the NASA repaint by Henry William. Because the animations are different between the two models, the panel detects which one it is using by looking for a one-gallon tip tank that is included in the configuration file of the Terry Gaff model. Since this was only a test of the compatibility, I will not go any further Cantus’ model.

Sound & Performance

There really isn’t much to say here about the sound. I have personally heard several –200's at my local airport and these sounds mimic that classic turbofan scream almost perfectly. With all the options included with the package, I am surprised again that the difference between the normal and hushed engine versions weren’t replicated, since both are included visually.

I personally lock my frame rate at 25 and neither the panel nor the exterior model drops the frame rate while locked compared to the default. As a little test I unlocked the frame rate and saw a roughly 30fps hit between default 737 and the TinMouse, which leaves less and less for complex scenery and weather. But that’s my system, and everyone’s is different. To sum up, expect a hit on frame rate like any other complex add-on.

Summary

This package is easily one of the best available complete freeware packages on the Internet. It is a shame that this package has not gotten more notice than it has. Yes, there are some oddities with the package. Most notably with the flap and spoiler control. That would make the necessity to relearn how to operate them obsolete, but kudos to finding more accurate ways to implement them.

For as many 737-200’s that were built, the flight simulator group has not given it much notice compared to other models. But looking around, not much notice is given to the old iron. Those that were flown, were done the old fashion way with stick and rudder skills. And the TinMouse is no exception. The –200 came long before the days of GPS and even INS. While the CIVA INS is a great addition, very few actual airplanes acquired the unit. The way to fly this was with VOR and NDB.

This project is still a work in progress, although it has slowed now that the main components are done. I personally am looking forward to the Sperry SP-177 unit, which will make auto-flight a bit easier and more familiar. Overall, the TinMouse Boeing 737-200 is a wonderful airplane for a by-gone age, and should really be in everyone’s hanger.

 

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